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Olympics and Trading

I love watching the Olympics.  These athletes are absolutely incredible.  They have practiced over and over and are now are on center stage to reach the pinnacle of their sport.  One of the things I have noticed while watching, is how many of the athletes take time before their competition to close their eyes and mentally run through their plan of action.  What’s interesting is if you thought anybody would not have to perform this exercise, it would be these athletes.  I’m sure they’ve trained thousands of hours and have done thousands of runs of their respective sports.  Most don’t even have to think about what they’re doing, they’ve trained for so long most of their movements on the course are from reflexes.  Yet almost all still saw the importance for visualizing their runs.

All of today’s major trading psychologists like Mark Douglas, Dr. Steenbarger, and Van Tharp all recommend practicing visualized imagery for trading.  Steenbarger recommends taking 15 minutes before every trading session and visualizing yourself acting appropriately when taking both winning and losing trades.  He argues that the visualization technique actually equals increased screen time:

Imagery is important because it multiplies experience.   That is, a person can face a situation many times in imagery (and practice efforts at mastery) when it would be impossible or impractical to do the same in real-world experience. For instance, it would take me days of actual experience to comprehensively rehearse responses to various opening range situations in the market. In imagery, however, I can generate a panoply of scenarios and rehearse my desired responses to each. If, for example, my research suggests high odds of breaking a two-day range to the downside, I can vividly imagine this situation (repeatedly, with variations) and walk myself through how I would enter, scale into, and exit positions; where I would place my stops; how I would honor those stops; etc.

So if these Olympic athletes who most have trained at their respective sport since they were kids, recognize the importance of imagery before their competition, shouldn’t it be important to me as an amateur who is trying to be successful at trading.

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